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Fine Foundation, Jewish Healthcare Foundation Create Model for Improving Patient Safety, Spreading Healthcare Excellence across Generations

By David Golebiewski, Jewish Healthcare Foundation

Jewish Healthcare FoundationAn accomplished businessman and philanthropist, Milton Fine observed that defining characteristics of success in the corporate world—collaborating, thinking disruptively, spreading best-in-class concepts—are also critical, yet often underappreciated, in the healthcare sector. Milton and his wife, Sheila, sought to change that in 2008 when their Fine Foundation partnered with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) to create the Fine Awards for Teamwork Excellence in Health Care, which recognize local healthcare teams for demonstrating innovative performance around safety and quality improvement within their organizations.

For the first time in 2016, the Fine Award winners mentored the multidisciplinary health students and young professionals who participated in another JHF initiative that catalyzes teamwork, innovation, and quality improvement in health care: The Patient Safety Fellowship. The union of the two initiatives promoted healthcare excellence from generation to generation, a culture of safety, and career development.

During the fellowship, health students from eight local universities—representing disciplines including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, healthcare policy and management, public health, occupational therapy, and bioengineering—learned JHF's Perfecting Patient CareSM (PPC) quality improvement method, applied their new knowledge and skills in real-world settings, and benefited from the mentorship of the seasoned quality and safety champions who were honored as winners of the 2016 Fine Awards.

In partnership with Fine Award winners, the fellows applied PPC methodology to analyze successful methods and look for opportunities to further increase quality, efficiency, and safety. The fellows examined isolation precaution protocol for intensive care unit (ICU) patients at Allegheny Valley Hospital; a Clostridium difficile reduction project at Excela Health; supportive housing and services for HIV-positive individuals at The Open Door, Inc.; and care coordination and patient engagement strategies at UPMC Shadyside's surgical ICU.

(L-R) Milton Fine, president and chair of the Fine Foundation; Sheila Fine, co-founder of the Fine Foundation and founder of LEAD Pittsburgh; and Jewish Healthcare Foundation Board Chair Nancy Rackoff, JD, during an event on August 29 that celebrated the union of the Fine Awards and the Patient Safety Fellowship."The Patient Safety Fellowship reinforced that we can make change in the healthcare industry," says Fellow Diane Weston, a health systems management student at Point Park University. "When you pool together the knowledge, creativity, and experience of a team, self-improvement and organizational improvement is possible."

Michael Osnard, pursing a dual MD/Master of Public Health degree at the University of Pittsburgh, believes that we have reached a "tipping point" in healthcare history. With recent changes in healthcare delivery and policy that increasingly reward care coordination and patient outcomes, organizations embrace new tools for positive transformation—tools that he feels ready to wield.

"The Patient Safety Fellowship provided us with strategic ways to reach our goals," says Osnard, who also participated in JHF's 2016 summer internship program. "It's inspiring to know that change can happen. This is a crucial time to make our voices heard."

The experience was also rewarding for the mentors, according to Kathleen Rosatti, RN, BSN, who is director of medical outcomes, patient safety and infection control at Excela Health. Rosatti was part of a healthcare team that was honored with a Fine Award for a Central Line Associated Bacteremia (CLAB) prevention project.

"The Patient Safety Fellows got these sparks in their eyes—you could see that the dots connected for them, and they knew how they would apply these lessons in their future careers," Rosatti says. "Those of us who have been in health care for 20-plus years didn't have similar learning opportunities."

A recent study by the BMJ (formerly called the British Medical Journal) found that approximately 250,000 patients in the U.S. die from preventable medical errors annually, observes JHF President and CEO Karen Wolk Feinstein, PhD. The partnership between the Fine Awards and the Patient Safety Fellowship could serve as a national model to address that urgent problem.

"By pairing young professionals with seasoned mentors who have shown that dramatic improvements in safety and quality are possible, we cultivate the kind of leaders needed to transform the U.S. healthcare system," Dr. Feinstein says.

For more information, visit jhf.org or contact David Golebiewski (412-594-2553, Golebiewski@jhf.org)

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